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How To Read Blood Pressure Manually

How It Works: Diastolic

How to: Measure Blood Pressure

Thats the top reading. But Becker and others are also listening for something else.

As the blood starts to run off, it makes a tapping sound, a dull tapping sound and the blood disappears, says Ferdinand.

Some describe it as a swooshing sound that then fades out.

And when that sound disappears, thats the diastolic or the lower blood pressure, he says.

When everything goes silent again, when your heart is at rest in between beats, thats the diastolic pressure. Its the lower reading, or the 80, if your blood pressure is 120 over 80.

Back To The Presentrelax

High blood pressure, especially, can stretch and damage the walls of the arteries, making the heart pump even harder and in turn, be a major risk factor for serious complications like heart disease and stroke.

Its why Dr. Ferdinand and others place so much attention on getting that measurement right.

Its one of the most important maneuvers done in clinical medicine, he says.

Yet, because so many factors can affect a persons blood pressure at any given time, Becker doesnt hedge all her bets on any one reading in isolation.

We kind of look at blood pressure over time as an average, she says.

Ferdinand advises for those who are feeling anxious, not to get it measured right away.

Its going to be a little high, he cautions.

So no pressure. Relax!

Ferdinand says instead, wait a few minutes. Some even recommend, when appropriate, that a patient measure it again at home. Beckers technique: asking patients about his or her week to provide some benign distraction.

So perhaps as anxiety and stress might build, in those moments or minutes before a doctor or nurse enters that exam room, one could maybe find some solace flipping through that six-month-old Time magazine thats probably on the table.

Or think about your cat?

Whatever you think might work to help you relax.

What If I Dont Have Equipment

You dont need a blood pressure cuff to take your resting heart rate, which is another measurement that helps indicate heart health. Digital monitors usually display both blood pressure and heart rate, but you can determine the former on your own by checking your pulse by hand. Your pulse is how many times your heart pumps per minute.

First, locate the artery below the thumb on the inside of your wrist and place two fingers there. Count how many times you feel your heartbeat over a 15-second period, and then multiply your count by four to get your resting heart rate.

When youre checking pulse by hand, youre looking for more than just a number. Youre also checking for a regular rhythm, which indicates a strong pulse.

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Blood Pressure Monitor Quality

Its needless to say how important is to use a certified and good quality blood pressure monitor. Branded or certified apparatus ensures a more accurate and reliable reading. Some branded blood pressure monitors are Omron, Panasonic. You can buy these easily on amazon.

You are going to need a stethoscope, a proper sized cuff and a aneroid or mercury;sphygmomanometer if you want to check blood pressure by hand or an automated BP apparatus. Ideally if you are not trained, its better to use an automated apparatus.

How Do I Know If My Monitor Is Accurate Or If I Am Using It Correctly

How to: Measure Blood Pressure

Once you buy your device, have your doctor check it for accuracy. They should check your monitor once a year. On your own, periodically check the tubing for cracks and leaks. Proper care and storage are necessary. Make sure the tubing is not twisted when you store it. Keep it away from heat.

Ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to use your blood pressure monitor correctly. This will help you achieve good results in controlling your blood pressure.

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Positioning The Blood Pressure Cuff

  • 1Locate your pulse.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Place your index and middle fingers over the inside center of your inner elbow. When you press lightly you should be able to feel the pulse of your brachial artery from this position.
  • If you have difficultly locating your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope in the same general area and listen until you can hear your heartbeat.
  • 2Wrap the cuff around your arm. Tuck the cuff end through the metal loop and slide it onto your upper arm. The cuff should be roughly 1 inch above the bend of your elbow and should be evenly tight around your arm.
  • Make sure that your skin is not pinched by the cuff as you wrap it securely. The cuff should have heavy duty velcro on it, which will hold the cuff closed.
  • 3Check the tightness of the cuff by slipping two fingertips underneath. If you can wiggle the two fingertips under the top edge but cannot wedge your full fingers beneath the cuff, the cuff is tight enough. If you can wedge your full fingers under the cuff then you need to open up the cuff and pull it tighter before closing it again.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Also place the stethoscope earpieces in your ears. The earpieces should face forward and point toward the tip of your nose.
  • Turn the screw on the pump bulb clockwise to close the airflow valve, if necessary.
  • How Do I Measure My Blood Pressure

    Before you check your blood pressure, you should:

    • Wait 30 minutes after eating or using caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco products.
    • Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder.
    • Rest for 3 to 5 minutes and do not talk.
    • Sit in a comfortable position, with your legs and ankles uncrossed and your back supported.
    • Elevate your left arm to the level of your heart. Place it on a table or desk and sit still.
    • Wrap the cuff around the upper part of your bare arm. The cuff should be smooth and snug. There should be enough room for you to slip one fingertip under the cuff.
    • Check the placement of the cuff. The bottom edge of it should be 1 inch above the crease of your elbow.

    Below are the steps to take to use an;aneroid monitor.

    Below are the steps to take to use a;digital monitor.

    • Turn the power on to start the unit.
    • On the automatic models, the cuff will inflate by itself with a push of a button. On the manual models, you have to inflate the cuff. You do this by squeezing the rubber bulb at a rapid rate.
    • After the cuff inflates, the automatic device will slowly let air out.
    • Look at the display screen to get your blood pressure reading. It will show your systolic and diastolic pressures. Write down the measurement in your record. The systolic pressure goes in front of the diastolic pressure. For example, 120/80.
    • Press the exhaust button to release all of the air from the cuff.
    • If you need to repeat the measurement, wait 2 to 3 minutes before starting.

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    Stethoscope Usage And Korotkoff Sounds

    The stethoscope is used on bare skin so that a clients clothing does not affect the sounds. The stethoscope does not make sounds louder; it simply blocks out extraneous noises so you can better hear the Korotkoff sounds. These sounds are heard through a stethoscope applied over the brachial artery when the blood pressure cuff is deflating. You will not hear anything when you first place the stethoscope over the brachial artery, because unobstructed blood flow is silent. The Korotkoff sounds appear after you inflate the cuff and then begin to deflate the cuff. The Korotkoff sounds are the result of the turbulent blood caused by the inflated cuff compressing the artery and oscillations of the arterial wall when the heart beats during cuff deflation.

    Here are a few tips:

    • Use a high quality stethoscope with durable, thick tubing. Avoid stethoscopes with long tubing because this can distort sounds.
    • Ensure quiet surroundings so that you can better hear the Korotkoff sounds.
    • Make sure that the slope of the stethoscope earpieces point forward or toward your nose.
    • Use a stethoscope that has both bell and diaphragm capacity. See Figure 5.4 for bell and diaphragm.

    Figure 5.4: Stethoscope with bell and diaphragm

    Film clip 5.2: Opening and closing the bell and diaphragm

    Alternatively, if viewing textbook as a pdf, use this link:

    In What Other Points Can I Feel The Pulse Of A Person

    Blood Pressure Measurement: How to Check Blood Pressure Manually

    In the human body, there are 7 points where you can feel the pulse. Although the most well-known and used with the wrist or the neck, it can also be felt or measured anywhere where an artery passes close to the surface of the skin.

    Use two fingers to apply light pressure on the site and you should be able to feel the pulse. When you find your pulse, count the number of beats for one minute, or count for 30 seconds and multiply by two.

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    Check Your Blood Pressure

    Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted in the arteries by the blood as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is recorded as two measurements:

    • Systolic pressure: pressure in the arteries during the period of the heart’s contraction
    • Diastolic pressure: pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats

    A doctor or nurse can listen to your blood pressure by placing a stethoscope on your artery and pumping up a cuff placed around your arm. The blood pressure is read on a special meter called a sphygmomanometer.

    Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury , which refers to how high the pressure in the arteries can raise a column of mercury in the sphygmomanometer.

    Welcome To Our Home Monitoring Resource Hub

    Here you can find resources for home monitoring, see our simple steps to get an accurate reading and make the most out of home monitoring.

    Plus,;read more about why home monitoring can be helpful and how to choose a monitor.

    The first step to managing your blood pressure is to Know Your Numbers! Watch our video to see how to measure your blood pressure at home and use our tips and resources below to check your own blood pressure at home.

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    Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading

    Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 figures:

    • systolic pressure ;the pressure;when your heart pushes blood out
    • diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats

    For example, if;your blood pressure is “140 over 90” or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.

    As a general guide:

    • normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
    • high blood pressure is considered to be;140/90mmHg or higher
    • low blood pressure is considered to;be 90/60mmHg or lower

    A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

    When To Check Blood Pressure

    Manual Blood Pressure Cuff How To Read

    If youre using a blood pressure monitor on your doctors advice, he or she should tell you when to take readings. As a rule, though, you should take them at the same time of day on each occasion, so youre comparing like with like.

    Take a few readings each time, a couple of minutes apart, and calculate the average to make the figures more representative. And if your blood pressure monitor doesnt store your readings for you, jot them down in a notebook to get an idea of long-term trends.


    Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from

    American Heart Association . Monitoring your blood pressure at home. Retrieved from

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    What Else Do I Need To Know

    • Do not take a BP reading in an arm that is injured or has an IV or shunt.
    • Take your BP medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicines if your BP is at your goal. A BP at your goal means your medicine is working correctly.
    • Bring the BP machine to your follow-up visit. Your healthcare provider can check that you are using it correctly.

    What Is Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

    If a doctor recommends ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, you will need to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. It’s connected to a small, portable measuring device that automatically measures your blood pressure at set times and records the readings.

    Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is used, for example, to see whether blood pressure levels vary greatly over the course of the day and night or whether they are constantly elevated. During those 24 hours, you can do all of the usual things you would otherwise do over the course of the day. If you are especially active at certain times, you can make a note in a diary. Then the doctor has a better idea of how to interpret the recorded values when evaluating them.

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    Using A Manual Blood Pressure Testing Machine

    Manually measuring your blood pressure is a bit of a complicated process. To begin with, you will first need a sphygmomanometer, which consists of a blood pressure cuff along with an aneroid monitor and a squeezable balloon for inflating and deflating the cuff. You will also need a stethoscope. An aneroid monitor is simply a number dial.

    Using a manual blood pressure testing machine is not a one-person job and you will need someone to assist you as it is difficult to use manual blood pressure testing machine by yourself.

    You need to be relaxed before measuring your blood pressure with a manual blood pressure machine. Now, position your arm straight and your palm should be facing up on a leveled surface such as a table. Place the cuff on your bicep and start squeezing the balloon to inflate the pressure cuff. You have to inflate the cuff by looking at the numbers on the aneroid monitor. You will need to inflate the cuff to about 20-30 mm Hg over your normal blood pressure. If you are unsure, then you can always consult your doctor to find out how much to inflate the cuff.

    You will now continue to hear the blood pulsing. You need to keep listening and continue to deflate the balloon to the point when this pulsing rhythm stops. At the point when the rhythm stops, you need to take note of that number as this will be your diastolic blood pressure. Similar to the automated blood pressure testing machine, you will record your blood pressure here also as systolic over diastolic.

    About Heart And Vascular Institute

    How to Take a Blood Pressure Manually

    The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.


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    What Is A Blood Pressure Measurement

    Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries. A blood pressure measurement is a test that measures the force in your arteries as your heart pumps. Blood pressure is measured as two numbers:

    • Systolic blood pressure measures pressure inside your arteries when the heart beats.
    • Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure inside the artery when the heart rests between beats.

    High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects tens of millions of adults in the United States. It increases the risk of life-threatening conditions including heart attack and stroke. But high blood pressure rarely causes symptoms. A blood pressure measurement helps diagnose high blood pressure early, so it may be treated before it leads to serious complications.

    Other names: blood pressure reading, blood pressure test, blood pressure screening, sphygmomanometry

    What Affects A Blood Pressure Reading

    Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:

    • Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called white coat syndrome. As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctors office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
    • What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
    • How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2

    Its important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.

    A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you dont need.

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    S Of Lowering Blood Pressure

    Blood pressure can be lowered through lifestyle changes and/or medications. Weight loss, regular exercise, a low-salt diet, and stress relief are all proven ways to lower blood pressure. If changes in lifestyle are not effective, there are medications that can safely lower blood pressure.

    People with normal blood pressure should maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid developing high blood pressure in the future. Individuals with prehypertension should start with lifestyle changes to reach their blood pressure goal. People with stage 1 hypertension should make the appropriate lifestyle changes to reach their blood pressure goal within 6 months, but they may need a prescribed medication if lifestyle changes are not effective. Stage 2 hypertension is usually controlled by adopting a healthy lifestyle and using one or more antihypertensive medications. Anyone with high blood pressure should take the prescribed medication exactly as directed.

    If you have questions about blood pressure readings, blood pressure control, drugs that cause high blood pressure, or prescription antihypertensive drugs, your pharmacist can help.

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